Today I escaped the regularity of everyday life and became a student again for the week.
It’s one of the greatest things about part-time Masters study.
I stay with friends, commute the 20 minute journey to Glasgow and enjoy the fact that the guy who serves me each day in Queens Street Starbucks knows what a London Fog is and asks me if I want ‘one teabag or two?’ 🙂
Don’t get me wrong, the work-life-study-balance-thing is always a little bit tricky (and there’s nothing worse than looming deadlines simultaneously hitting you from both university and your day-job)…
But yet, I do love being a student.
I love the vibrancy of learning something new.
The challenge of ideas that don’t quite fit with your preconceptions.
Exploring and wrestling with how the Bible can be applied in a way that really just changes everything.
The space to think deeply about the things of God.
Curling up in a corner of the library with an ancient textbook.
Man, I am a geek.
So, this morning I donned my glasses, packed up a handbag the size of a small suitcase, and began my daily-for-this-week-only routine.
Justice. And specifically today: Justice in the Old Testament.
And wow. Just wow!
I love it when Holy Spirit just floors you with revelation in a lecture. I mean, surely that’s the best kind of lecture?
I am left remembering that justice and righteousness underpin everything that God does because they are embedded into His nature.
It’s who He is.
It’s what He loves to do.
I sit here considering that justice should define God’s people.
That justice should define me.
The narrative of the Old Testament describes two main sins of rebellion regarding Israel; things that we see continually revisited.
Idolatry. And injustice.
The Israelites could not be the people of God and be idolatrous. They could not be the people of God and be unjust. It was just contrary to who they were supposed to be. And an Old Testament narrative displays to us again and again that God hears, responds to, and aligns Himself with the victims of injustice. From Genesis, throughout the Exodus, and into the Law, God’s heart just beats to the rhythm of justice.
He is intrinsically righteous, and His righteousness and justice are not abstract notions to be applied. God Himself is the standard by which we measure ourselves to see how like Him we are.
Do I live like God would live?
It’s not a checklist; it’s a heart thing.
Do I feel like God would feel?
Am I moved like God is moved?
Wow. That’s some challenge.
Out of the vast amount of material covered today, one particular part highlighted by my Old Testament lecturer just won’t leave my mind.
This undoes me.
Exodus 19 v 5 says, ‘Now therefore, if you will hear my voice and guard my covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to me above all people..’
The words ‘special treasure’ here are better translated as a precious jewel, or a specific item of vast worth.
So, fast forward to Revelation 21 vs 11, 18-21.
The very walls of the city of God are described as being built with an elaborate list of stunning jewels or stones. Jewels of great worth.
It’s a beautiful, radiant picture of our literal hope.
But if the city described here, and this stunning imagery, is more than just a physical description, but one that points to and represents us as the bride, then it takes us right back to that verse in Exodus.
And it changes everything.
We are the very jewels of God.
And what then, gives these precious stones their value?
Why do they have worth?
If you look at literal pictures of that list of jewels, you’ll see an overflow of shades, and colours, and vibrancy.
But the colours are rich, (and here’s the bit that just wakes you up) only because of the stone’s ability to catch the light.
How much a stone can reflect determines its colour.
And it’s colour determines its value.
And I am transformed into a precious jewel of the Most High, into the beautiful daughter of my heavenly Abba, by how much of His light, and His heart and His Spirit I reflect.
By giving Him my heart so that He can align it with His.
His righteous, perfect-justice heart.
Because then the colour shines.
And His grace saves me and gives me a new identity as a precious stone in His Kingdom. But it’s my choice to position myself before Him and to say, ‘Abba, I want to radiate You. I want to shine so that Your character can be displayed through me. I want to love the things You love and hate the things You hate. I want nothing to stop the pure, shining reflection.’
As Jason Upton sings, ‘Daddy, make me just like You.’